Chair’s Blog: 2016 Away Day

How did Harriet get on at Swansea meeting the other branches and head office?

by Harriet Allen


I went to the volunteer away day at the Science Festival this year. It’s the first time I’ve been along to one of these – our branch tends to send the chair and this is my first year in post – but I want to write a quick blog to encourage others to attend.
I’ll report all the various contacts, ideas and plans back to the branch in due course. Here I want to describe the event so hopefully encourage more of our branch volunteers to attend. Now I’ve attended it seems like such a no brainer to go again. As a nominated branch attendee I got my travel  funded by the BSA. If I’d thought about it properly I’d have enjoyed a free trip to the festival. Unfortunately I couldn’t get enough time off work by the time I clocked what I could have won.
I arrived in time to catch a little bit of the festival on day one. Even just that short time meant I could suck up some knowledge. Even though I work in science, it’s rare luxury to be able to just pick and choose my sessions based on preference and whim. I never knew that Les Paul invented not just the electric guitar but also the four track recorder.

The branches events started with an evening reception. My first ‘networking’ experience started by going up and down in the lift with two members from Cambridge. Then there were drinks and some substantial canapés. The sort of canapés which mean you don’t really need dinner. At the reception the volunteer and branch awards are given…..but it isn’t just a back slapping exercise. I was really inspired to hear what others had done. Within a few minutes I had start to hear about other branches were doing and I think I’d learnt enough to justify the trip in the first 30 minutes. Sometimes it was nice just to hear that we were not the only group struggling with logistics, other times it was fantastic to hear of great creative ideas elsewhere and other times it was good to be able explain our projects and how we made them happen.
This sharing of experience continued on day two. Sometimes in the form of formal talks…..I learnt how to do a sci/art workshop for example. We also had some guided discussions (although, to be fair, I don’t think any one of the discussions I was in stayed on topic). Meanwhile I was well fed and watered.
I’ve come away feeling much more inspired than I anticipated. Volunteers attending were much more varied than I expected. Each branch has its own context and challenges but there is something to learn from everyone.

Missed Scibar? Read all about it….








Brains and Neurons:–27–the-inside-story-of-the-brain/id/8574

Cities and Flooding:–flooding-and-blue-green-cities/id/8173

Biotech and Power–26–biotechnology-in-solar-power/id/8507

Mind Reading–mind-reading/id/8427

Come to our Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum event


Science and religion play an important role in our lives but often we think of them as opposites or as two groups of people who cant communicate. On 29th September 2016 a panel discussion will be held in Lakeside Arts Centre at University of Nottingham to address how the two can learn from each other. The audience will be encourage to put forward questions and opinions to a panel of experts. The discussion will explore in an open-minded way, the role of science and religion and its history in shaping the social and cultural views of the public.

The panel will consist of academics and members of local communities including Professor Richard Bell from the department of theology at the University of Nottingham, Anne-Marie Ainger of the Baha’i community, Dr. Stephen Jones from Newman University and Gush Bhumbra, president of Leicester Secular Society.

Harriet Allen, chair of the Nottingham branch of the British Science Association said: “I’m really pleased that we are able to host this discussion. Science and Religion hold very important roles in people’s lives so we want to work beyond them being in opposition. I’m looking forward to this discussion.”

The event is hosted by the Newman University and British Science Association as part of the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project.

Tickets (Free):

logo_sres logo_newman



Science in the Park 2016: Pictures!

What happened at Science in the Park 2016? Here are some pictures, thanks to Jacqueline Mellisande. Go see her website is

Science in the park – A glimpse of science and the public

By Hayley Smith

images by Jacqueline Mellisande

On the 19th March, 2016, the British Science Association held in my opinion the most popular Science in the Park event to date, with visitor numbers in excess of 7000. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Wollaton hall and deer gardens, a day of investigation and scientific education managed to enchant adults and children alike.


I arrived at Wollaton hall early Saturday morning, with the first task of the day being to assist in the set up. This was no small task, with stalls representing everyone and everything from hearing research charities to soil experts, the University of Nottingham Institute of Physics and School of Psychology to some memorable robots from Nottingham Trent University. Being a biologist and keen owl-nut, a personal favourite was the Hawks of Steel exhibit. I was lucky enough to say good morning to one of the beautiful owls as the birds were brought out before the exhibit opened. The perks of being stationed in the gardens for part of my volunteer shift!


Whilst offering programmes for the day’s events, the amount of genuine interest being shown came as both a pleasant surprise and an encouragement. The STEM Outreach society of the University of Nottingham, also in attendance, speaks of the importance of conveying a sense of intrigue and enthusiasm for all areas of science to the wider public. In presenting simple yet engaging activities for visitors, stalls showed the value of creating a first point of contact for people new to or less versed in scientific topics. Activities catered to all ages and included things such as creating a paper DNA double helix replica, psychological memory and speed tests to an explosive finish at the Physics Live finale. Others in attendance also included OPAL, who provided information on how to explore and categorise the environment around us in order to discover more about the current state of the British outdoors.


An issue expressed by many attending and on social media related to the sheer volume of people in attendance. Walking through the interior of the Hall to go for lunch in the volunteer’s room was a mini-endeavour in itself, with the hall already packed by this time! Despite these frustrations the event was clearly a success – with more than three times the expected amount of people in attendance, these events prove themselves to be positive and valuable forms of outreach.

So, how was Science in the Park?

If you came to Science in the Park 2016 – thank you and I hope you had a great time.

Thank you to all our exhibitors, volunteers, visitors and Wollaton Hall (who hosted us for free) for making this day possible.

Over 7000 people attended, which far exceeded our expectations. Thank you to everyone for being so patient and we hope everyone enjoyed the day even if you didn’t get a chance to see everything. We will be reviewing how we do things before next year so hopefully you’ll come back next year.

We’ll be collecting photos and reviews over the next few weeks. Here is what we have so far:

Nottingham Science Blog 

Nottingham Science Blog review of the talks by Gav Squires

Fab report from Josh Giltrap on YouTube